Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day May 2013

It's amazing how quickly the 15th of the month seems to roll round and it's time for another chance to join with other Garden Bloggers to show what's flowering in the garden today.

After a cold dry winter, it's been a cool wet spring and, despite a few warm days, things are still behind what is normal for mid May.  Which means a lot of plants that would normally be over are still in flower - and have been joined by the earliest of the summer flowers.

All of my winter / spring flowering Camellias are still producing.  Not with the abundance of last month - 'St Ewe' and 'Cornish Snow' only have a few flowers and buds left - but enough for a very welcome show.  Indeed 'Anticipation' is now at it's peak - only two months late. As always, click the photos to embiggen.

Camellia x williamsii 'Anticipation'
Also still flowering is my fastigiate cherry, Prunus 'Amanogawa'.  This is always a little later than other flowering cherries but mid May and still possessing masses of blossom is the latest I've had it in flower.  It came with the garden 16 years ago and is now about 25ft / 8metres in height, upright and narrow, forming a spire of colour rather than a canopy.

Prunus 'Amanogawa'
My other flowering tree, Magnolia 'Raspberry Ice', has finished its main display but continues to put out the odd flower.  About a dozen at the moment, some fully open, some just opening.  So I feel justified in including it in this month's listings, albeit with a photo I took a couple of weeks ago.

Magnolia 'Raspberry Ice'
In past years I've always felt I was short of perennial colour in May.  Aquilegias do well here, seeding around with moderate abandon.  I may have started with a  mix of colours but over the years my seedlings are coming out to shades of pink and dull red, the occasional white and, vary rarely, dark blue.  Time for a bit of variety, I thought, so snapped up a couple from a hybrid seed strain in purple and light blue with white picotee edges to the petals.  Hopefully, they'll cross with my existing plants and produce some more interesting seedlings for years to come.

Blue and white Aqueligia hybrid
Purple and white Aquilegia hybrid
One plant I'm glad to see again is Chasmanthe bicolor.  Related to crocosmias these South African natives really need mild, sunny winters to produce a lot of flowers.  I was given some bulbs in 2004.  They flowered the following year and then did nothing except produce large quantities of leafy spears.  I dug them up last Autumn and replanted the bed - and one has flowered this year.  Interesting rather than showy. they are quite distinctive.

Chasmanthe bicolor

Chasmanthe bicolor
In years gone by if you wanted a blue Corydalis there was only C.cashmeriana, a very capricious little woodlander.  Now, following introductions from China, there are a selection of larger, reliable and easily grown blue flowered shade lovers.  This one is C.flexuosa 'Purple Leaf' which looks good even out of flower.  The enemies are slugs and snails - so I grow mine in a decent size pot.  It will flower well into the summer.

Corydalis flexuosa 'Purple Leaf'
Corydalis flexuosa 'Purple Leaf' - close up of the flowers
Built on larger lines but with similarly attractive cut leaves is Dicentra spectabilis, another late spring flower that continues well into midsummer.  I've written about this and its white variety before so I'll just throw in a single photo this year.  What I would like to show is the other Dicentras I've added to the garden over the years.  But I can't.  As fast as I've added them my snails have grazed them to ground level.  Some things are not meant to be.
Dicentra spectabilis
Epimediums and pulmonarias are classic spring flowering woodland plants.  I grow a number but will content my self with illustrating three.  I'm planning a post on foliage in a few days - and these two genera will certainly feature in that.
Epimedium x cantabrigiense

Epimedium franchettii 'Brimstone Butterfly'
Pumonaria 'Cotton Cool'
In the rear garden the perennial wallflower 'Walburton's Fragrant Star' has thrown up this year's crop of flower spikes.  Non-fertile, these keep elongating (and flowering) all through the summer and autumn but are at their best while still compact.  In theory they are perpetual flowerers.  In practice I cut off the still productive stalks in mid winter to allow the next generation to come through.  Edge variegation enhances the leaves of this compact (and probably short lived) shrub.

Erysium 'Walburton's Fragrant Star'
Talking of woodlanders Anemone nemorosa is making an ever denser and wider carpet under my Acer 'Bloodgood'.  It's still in flower, even if they are now tinged with pink rather than the pristine white of a couple of weeks ago.  My other varieties are not as free to spread - and I wrote about them last year so won't repeat my self.

Maria likes lavender.  I don't mind it, though I'm not a cottage gardener - but my soil is too wet and acid for it to do well.  So I have a couple of pots by the back door.  Nothing special, two varieties of french lavender, one purple-pink, one white.  But they flower most of the summer, and start early.  Normally they'd be thronged with insects but they're few and far between at the moment.

French lavender

French lavender - dwarf white form
I was once advised that the best way to keep tulips as perennials was to bury the bulbs more deeply than recommended.  It certainly worked with my favourite 'Queen of the Night' for a number of years.  Unfortunately my clumps have come up blind this year so I may have to start again this autumn.  No matter, here's 'Gavota' to brighten the day.

Tulip 'Gavota'
I mentioned that I'd found a seedling of Geranium renardii a while ago.  It's now flowered.  The purple lines are bee guides, pointing the way to the nectaries at the heart of the plant.

Geranium renardii
One plant that's been in the garden from before my ownership is the common little rosette forming London Pride, Saxifraga x urbium.  I mainly use it a ground covering little filler plant, in sun or light shade but at this time of year it produces heads of little flowers.  Collectively they are just light, airy confections:

London Pride, Saxifraga x urbium
But get a little closer and the individual flowers are very attractive despite being only 7-8mm across.

London Pride, Saxifraga x urbium.  Single flower in close up.
On a larger scale, Bergenias are also good for weed smothering ground cover and also fit in with my more exotic theme for the garden.  Large, leathery leaves are a year round feature and the winter to spring flower spikes are worthwhile.  This one is 'Winter Glow'.  I only bought it last year and it's still settling in - but showing promise for the future.

Bergenia 'Winter Glow'
Finally I'm illustrating one of the shrub like busy lizzies, Impatiens auricoma x bicaudata.  This is tender, about 5C minimum, so was dug up last autumn and spent the winter on a window ledge.  It's now back outside, about 3ft tall, a little lopsided due to the uneven lighting, but covered in these lovely orange flowers.  It will be till late Autumn.  Well worth the trouble of overwintering a large plant rather than starting again with small cuttings.

Impatiens auricoma x bicaudata
What the next month will bring I don't know.  Maria tells me there was snow on Dartmoor overnight - and that's only a few miles away.  We're a lot milder here but this year has been very unusual.  Things may catch up - but they may still be delayed.

As always, my thanks to May Dreams Gardens for hosting the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day meme.  Head over there to see what's flowering in many more gardens round the world.


  1. A very nice batch of blooms there John. I especially like the Magnolia 'Raspberry Ice'.

  2. Gorgeous blooms...I'm totally smitten with your purple/white Aqueligia...I really need to do the same thing...introduce some new colors to the ones I already have (which have all crossed to a mix of washed-out peaches and oranges).

  3. I am still doing the rounds reading GBBDs posts, better late than never! You have so many lovely plants that could do well in my woodland area, if it was just a bit bigger....I would certainly love to have some Aqueligias and your blue Pulmonaria 'Cotton Cool' is lovely too. I really could need some blue flowers, they are a very small minority in my garden.
    Love your Saxifraga, I use to grow Saxifraga fortunei, but after a few years it just didn't emerge and I have seen nothing to it for years, not sure why.

    I hope you had a lovely weather today, tomorrow seems to be nice too and Monday for us in the South-East. Then we are back to cold, windy and rain. Ugh!